Setting up partner key performance indicators (KPIs), vendors can get bogged down in measuring things that are subjective, hard to quantify and even a little beside the point – engagement, for example. The most effective KPIs focus on the ultimate outcome you want, which is sales.
What Are the Characteristics of the Ideal Partner?
To measure sales in a way that’s useful, we need to start with a consistent sales pipeline and consistent sales pipeline methodology. Then analyzing your partner relationships, you begin by determining relevant attributes. You may look at partner size – how big is the company? – and discover that, “Gee, our product sells really well in these very lean small companies.” Or “No, my product sells the best in these really large companies.”
Another attribute to consider is what a partner sells, their technology. Maybe they sell other products or enhancements that your product dovetails into nicely. What sort of organizations or industries are they selling into? Government? Healthcare? Corporate?
Determine Similarities and Then Tease Out Differences
Think about all the factors that figure into sales. When you’ve got a list, you start sorting all your current partners by these attributes. You may start noticing peer groups or different sets of attributes that are similar. So let’s say you do partner group A, partner group B, and partner group C. They’re differentiated by the size of the company or by what other products they sell, by what industries they sell into, but you group them together by what’s the same about them. Pay close attention to the ones who perform and find out what’s different about them. And then develop fine tuning metrics based on those differences.
So first, you’re seeking sameness as you can best define it. After that, you’re looking at the performance of the people in that control group. And when you see that, when you see who’s performing, it’s time to dig into what makes them different from the other people. It may be something intangible like corporate culture.
Corporate Culture as Partner Attribute
For example, let’s say all the partners in group C more or less look the same, but this one company that’s selling your stuff the best is real progressive in its corporate culture. They’ve won best place to work in their city, their owner is a philanthropist, etc. If you read any of the more current Peter Drucker, the famous business professor, he said culture eats strategy for breakfast. Culture’s a hard thing to go out and try to measure while you’re recruiting a partner. But it’s not hard to sense once they are a partner. You know when you’re called into a company that’s got a crap corporate culture because everyone’s miserable.
Continue Gathering Data
Considering how various partners have performed in the past, identifying and classifying attributes, you’re eventually going to arrive at some conclusions about the partner profile most likely to be successful. You nail it down and then you measure against that and figure out if you’re right.
And of course you’re going to measure the obvious. Are they producing deals? Are they closing deals? Look at all the same stuff that’s been used for a hundred years to manage sales performance. This partner is more active in our portal, downloads more content. There’s a lot more activity. Well, what’s the cause and effect? If you find those activities align with performance, you’ve got a direct correlation and probably something worth continuing to track. But remember, activity should never be mistaken for results.
For more on meaningful metrics in partner relationship programs, read The Real Secret to Scaling: Meaningful Metrics, Part 1.